The chef last night at his future restaurant, The Gorbals, inside Space Ninety 8 (Photo by: Jenna Marotta)

The chef last night at his future restaurant, The Gorbals, inside Space Ninety 8 (Photo by: Jenna Marotta)

Today we spoke by phone with Ilan Hall, who will soon open an East Coast outpost of his LA restaurant, The Gorbals inside the new Urban Outfitters concept store, Space Ninety 8. The winner of Top Chef‘s second season, who “was born in Manhattan, grew up on Long Island, then blossomed into a flower in the East Village,” is now based in South Williamsburg. On April 15, the second season of his cooking face-off, Knife Fight, premieres on Esquire Network.

BB_Q(1) I read on Eater LA that Action Bronson might judge an episode of Knife Fight?

BB_A(1) We met in Miami at the Wine and Food Festival and I saw him in concert there. I tried to get him on as a judge but it just hasn’t worked out. He wants to — he’s told me that he wants to do it, it’s just scheduling is tough because I was in LA.

BB_Q(1) You’ve filmed all 24 episodes of season 2. Do the stakes get heightened at all?

BB_A(1) Yeah there’s a lot more betting that happens this season. Chefs come up with bets, like dare bets.

BB_Q(1) Can you give me an example?

BB_A(1) Well the hair loss, a little bit of strange vessels for drinking liquor out of. That’s about all I can give you.

BB_Q(1) You got in trouble for some hair loss before [he and other Top Chef contestants tried to shave Marcel Vigneron’s head].

BB_A(1) Since there’s no money prize, people want it to represent something.

BB_Q(1) How do you get people to do it for no money? Just for the sake of their reputations?

BB_A(1) That’s how we get people to do it. Because you’re not losing anything so it’s just about fun. It’s all about cooking. It’s all about making the best stuff possible. It takes the pressure away!

BB_Q(1) You’re still on TV. Isn’t that so much pressure?

BB_A(1) Why? No. Listen it’s in my restaurant it’s not in a TV studio. Literally there’s a crowd of people and it’s in my restaurant, it’s not like you’re on stage. It’s more of like a bare-knuckles boxing match.

BB_Q(1) So, I have not been to The Gorbals. Tell me about what I can expect from the location in Brooklyn.

BB_A(1)I don’t know. I have to finish the menu. [Laughs] I think we’re going to get a little more elegant then we’ve been in LA. It’s just a fun place: it’s not too expensive, really delicious food, stuff that’s a little bit experimental, a little bit weird. Some fun plays on surf and turf, smaller plates, larger plates, we run the gamut of everything. [Laughs] We have no rules for what our food is.

BB_Q(1) What kind of experiments are you thinking?

BB_A(1) I’m just gonna try and push myself, use a bit classic cooking techniques in modern ways. I don’t have a dish yet. I have a woodfire grill so we’re going to do a lot of great stuff off the grill.

BB_Q(1) So it’s not going to be the exact same menu as LA?

BB_A(1) No, it’s going to be different. I hired a great chef that I’ve been working with that’s running the restaurant in LA. So I’ll be bringing some of the stuff (a few dishes) over that I was doing in LA but for the most part, it’ll be a brand new menu, brand new me.

BB_Q(1) You’ve settled back in New York?

BB_A(1) I’m back. I mean I’m still going back [to LA] every once in a while, but my big focus is on the restaurant here. That is my priority in my life right now.

BB_Q(1) What do you think of all the change that’s happening to your neighborhood, South Williamsburg?

BB_A(1) I mean, it’s great for property value! I don’t know. Look, it’s great. There’s people who hate on progress but the neighborhood is wealthy now and it was very poor at one point. So all the people that own property or did own property at one point, now they’re all selling their lots — lots of land they bought for $10,000 are now $10 million. It’s the way cities go, it’s the way in New York City. Property values just continue to rise.